Food Friday - memorial dinner edition
My niece messaged me a week or so ago. she was going to be in town and wanted to join us with her brother. it was perfect, the last day of saying kaddish for my mother and it seemed perfect to have most of my mother's grandchildren seated around the table.
The meal then began to grow. I invited my beloved cousin who until recently was from the side of the family we didn't talk to. I also invited my dear friend who represents the Halifax part of my mother's life. Unlike our diner breakfast where a seemingly endless number of tables and chairs can be added to accommodate the number of people we want to have at our table, our dining room and our table are very unforgiving. We can seat twelve and no more. I was not able to invite my mother's near-grandchildren, her sister's grandchildren who she treated very much like grandchildren.
In planning this meal I realize that much of it is food my mother would have hated.
My son cooked up a vast amount of jerk chicken. It is insanely spicy. One of my mother's favorite description of food was "mild and delicious". This chicken is delicious but decidedly un-mild.
I can't imagine that my mother was a big fan of kale. My son is making that as I type. The roasted kale will be served with roasted mandarin orange sections.
It is only with extreme self control that I have not nibbled all of the orange sections. They are that good and will look beautiful against the dark green kale.
I am also going to show you a lazy way to make delicious rice ( this my mother would have loved).
I hacked up mushrooms and put them in a baking pan with some chicken fat from last Shabbat's chicken. Once the mushrooms were mostly cooked...
I added the rice, the container of chicken juice and some water. I covered the pan tightly with foil and then set it in the oven to cook with the chicken. I will flavor correct later.
My mother always set a beautiful table. I will use a cloth that she particularly loved, a red and white linen check and use not the napkins that came with the cloth but some vintage white damask linen napkins. The checked table cloth will be topped by a white linen cloth with complicated hemstitching. Our plates are slate grey.
My mother was big on desserts.
In her honor I have made whities, or meringues.They are flavored with orange bitters and big chunks of bittersweet chocolate.
A natural pairing for meringues is biscotti, meringues yield extra egg yolks. Biscotti need extra egg yolks. I used this recipe from Mario Batali.
Making them I think that biscotti were invented when an Italian grandmother was busy and gave the grandchild she was babysitting for ingredients to play with. The dough feels exactly like the dirt I used to use to make mudpies with in the back yard at 22 President's Lane. Every time I make biscotti I am glad that my friend Paula Randall and I spent so many hours carefully mixing dirt and water and forming it into shapes.
It's even the same color as Presidents Lane dirt. Unlike the Quincy dirt, the biscotti is studded not with pebbles but with whole almonds, shredded coconut, snips of dried apricots and large chunks of that same bittersweet chocolate.
It baked up looking like this and is now sliced and toasted and ready to serve. If I have the energy I will bake a cranberry wet cake.
My mother was a big believer in a multi-part dessert course.
Shabbat Shalom to all...on my first Shabbat as a non mourner, back in the world of the living.